• Questions and Answers related to The Mt. Hood Bond Measure

  • What is the bond measure that Mt. Hood Community College wants to pass?

    The college is proposing a general obligation bond measure in the amount of $75 million. It will be used by Mt. Hood Community College to: construct a new Workforce and Applied Technology building on the main Gresham campus; address the safety and security of students, employees and visitors on the campus by providing essential security and seismic upgrades; free up additional operating funds by refinancing capital obligations; securing $8 million in state matching funds that will otherwise be lost, which would be used for additional support for the Workforce and Applied Technology Center.

    How much will the bond cost?

    The estimated tax rate will be $23 per $100,000 of assessed value. It is important to note that assessed value is assigned by a tax assessor and should not be confused with market value, which is the amount a homeowner could expect to receive if he or she were to put a property up for sale. The Measure will cost the average homeowner less than $50 per year.

    Why does the district need this bond measure?
    • The college is badly in need of resources to prepare it for the future. Many of the college’s buildings were constructed in the early 70s, and while the district has done a heroic effort in keeping the buildings operational, time is slowly catching up with them. It is time to modernize, upgrade and prepare for the future.
      The district routinely meets the needs of more than 25,000-30,000 students on an annual basis. We have classes meeting in every nook and cranny of the college, many in spaces that are truly inadequate.
    • Funds are needed to improve and modernize our infrastructure. Much of it is old and outdated. Equipment and technology change quickly and the state does not fund upgrades on a regular or predictable basis.
    • Currently we have a commitment for $8 million from the state for capital improvements, but this is a match, meaning that the $8 million comes only of Mt. Hood brings in the first $8 million. If we do not, we lose out on the additional $8 million.
    • We’ve paid attention to the annual planning documents the faculty in academic departments has produced. To meet the needs departments have now and those projected for the future, we must get the funds to start creating those spaces now. The breadth of offerings is limited in many departments because of limited space.
    • In 1966 when Mt. Hood opened its doors, the district served 500 students; today, even with the additions and improvements of recent years, the campus struggles to provide enough classroom space for more than 29,000 students. The college simply needs more classrooms and labs to serve the growing student body, and meet the needs of business and industry.
    • A majority of our student population is part-time - students often cannot find the spaces in class to commit to a full-time schedule.
    • Basic repairs are required to plumbing, ductwork, roofs, walls and floors that have aged.
    • Many college buildings, classrooms and grounds must be improved to meet current earthquake, health, fire safety, security and disability access standards.
      The State under-funds basic maintenance and upkeep for wear and tear on classrooms and labs – which is a growing need.
    How soon will the college need new buildings at its current growth rate?

    Right away! We are filling classrooms as soon as they are created.

    • Demand for our educational and training programs has grown beyond our physical capacity to accommodate. The new Workforce and Applied Technology Center will immediately be active in helping provide the training and experience students need to obtain well-paying jobs in a variety of career fields, such as Automotive Tech, Advanced Manufacturing and welding.
    • The main campus was originally intended to accommodate approximately 5-10,000 students, and the college’s current population of nearly 30,000, puts great pressure on our facilities. With ongoing discussions from the state and federal governments about free community college tuition, the district needs to be prepared for a possibly influx of a great number of new students.
    If the bond measure doesn’t pass, will the college still receive the $8 million from the state?

    No. The $8 million from the state of Oregon comes as part of a match program, meaning it provides the match amount if the college provides the initial $8 million. To receive that funding, the college is required to provide $8 million in local funding. If the measure fails, the only other alternative would be to initiate a capital fundraising campaign. But a campaign that large would require years of work, and we must meet that match in 2017 or the funds revert back to the state.

    How long does it take to retire the bonds? Does the tax last forever?

    In general, the bonds will be paid off in 21 years.

    How would money from the Bond measure be spent?

    A1. The short answer:
    The measure is needed to maintain and improve the high standard of education at Mt. Hood Community College by:

    • Building a new Workforce and Applied Technology Center on the Gresham campus, which would house laboratories and classrooms, and expand the college’s efforts in providing applied technology careers.
    • Upgrading and improving the college’s safety and security infrastructure, including the use of new technologies, and seismic upgrades and retrofitting to protect against earthquakes.
    • Securing $8 million in state matching funds that will otherwise be lost, which would be used for additional support for the Workforce and Applied Technology Center.
    • Freeing up more operating funds by refinancing existing capital obligations.

    A2. The longer answer:

    The College and the Board of Trustees and administration, with input originally from faculty departments’ annual plans, have developed long-range master plans for the college. From these plans the project list for Measure has been formulated. The project list is:

    • Construct a new Workforce and Applied Technology Center to prepare students for employment in high-tech jobs and careers

    This center will house technology laboratories and classrooms expanding the College’s efforts in providing applied technology careers to include:

    • Automotive Technology
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Advanced Machine Tool Technology
    • Welding
    • Skilled trades and Apprenticeship programs
    • The Center will serves as a hub for corporate training and workforce development in the MHCC District
    • Provide updated computer technology capability for students;
    • Renovate space to consolidate operations, reduce operating costs in order for more classes and job training to be offered, improve academic instruction
    • Invest in new security measures allowing for immediate and effective response to possible threats, both natural and man-made
    • Provide for new keyless entry systems allowing the college to lock down buildings and protect students, staff and faculty in case of an active shooter or other imminent danger
    • Repair, build, reconfigure, upgrade and/or replace leaky roofs, decaying walls, old ceiling tiles and flooring, peeling paint, aging plumbing, sewer and drainage systems, inefficient electrical systems and wiring, deteriorated restrooms, heating, ventilation and cooling systems, classrooms, lecture halls, warehouse storage systems, playing fields, physical education facilities, grounds, science and other instructional laboratories and healthcare workforce facilities
    • Address essential seismic upgrades to key buildings at the Gresham and Maywood Campus
    • Modernize facilities, technology infrastructure, equipment and labs across all campuses to serve students seeking the education and training necessary to meet current and future business and industry standards.
    • Essential building upgrades to improve energy, efficiency, safety and extended usable life
    • Addressing technology infrastructure including wireless connectivity, improvements to web-based learning and student services
    • Addressing technology and equipment needs in allied health, applied technologies, computer information systems, and engineering and science labs.
    • Create state of the art labs mirroring the expectations of business and industry, health care and other technical career fields.
    • Upgrade and repair facilities for earthquake safety as well as existing fire alarms, sprinklers, smoke detectors, install security systems, exterior lighting, emergency lighting, emergency communications
    • Conserve and better utilize college resources by addressing college’s current capital debt.
    • To address essential college facility needs including new electrical and HVAC systems, outdoor safety lighting, parking lot upgrades and more, the college in the early 2000s borrowed millions to ensure the completion of these vital upgrades.
    • While vital, the continued loan payments take vital resources away from necessary program development, student support, and continued business success strategies.
    • Paying off existing debt will free up millions annually to directly support student success
    • Paying off existing debt will reduce the college’s financial risk and utilize a standard community college funding mechanism used by other college districts throughout the state of Oregon, and around the country
    • This bond process - instead of the uncertainty of borrowing money from financial institutions - is a more stable and secure funding process allowing for more precise budget planning and forecasting for the future
    • Upgrade technology
      Replace outdated technology facilities, upgrade Internet access and wireless and cable technology, build technology-enhanced classrooms, upgrade telecommunications systems, upgrade campus-wide technology, replace outdated computers, hardware and software, replace network infrastructure equipment, and install wiring upgrades, campus wide underground fiber optics installation.
    Doesn’t the State provide funds to build new buildings and repair existing ones?

    The state rarely provides funds to repair or remodel existing buildings on its own, instead providing matching funds. While the matching funds are vital and important, it is imperative that the college first amasses the seed money to ensure the matching funds are delivered. Besides the bond process, the other avenues include capital campaigns or borrowing - both options with much more risk involved.

    How do voters know that the money will be used as intended – for buildings, repair, etc., and not for administrator salaries and the like?

    The college has provided a list of projects that the bond monies could fund, so voters will know what the money will be used for. The money will be used only for projects that are on the list, and will not be used for any salaries for any employee class at the college. The list has some general categories to allow flexibility for the specific classroom, labs and projects needed to support the implementation of academic department plans.

    The college will set up a Citizen’s Oversight Committee that will have regular meetings and review the expenditures. There will also be annual fiscal and performance audits conducted by an independent audit firm.

    If voters pass the bond how can I get on the oversight committee?

    After the measure passes, the district will set up a process for people to apply to the new committee. If someone wishes to be considered for appointment to the bond Oversight Committee, he or she may submit a letter requesting consideration and a copy of their resume to the Mt. Hood Community College President's Office. The Board of Trustees will consider new members on a yearly basis.

    The college went out for a larger bond in 2016. Why do you think this one will pass now?

    We understand that at $125 million the bond may have been too large for many people. By dropping the amount from $125 to $75 million, we are dropping the ask from homeowners a significant amount – almost in half! For the average homeowner with a home valued at $200,000, the annual cost would be less than $50 per year. The reality is, that the need is still there. We hope the public will understand and embrace the reality of the situation. We know that in tough economic times, when the cost of going to a 4-year, proprietary or private university continues to skyrocket, more people than ever turn to their community colleges for affordable, high-quality education, job training, and updating of critical skills to make themselves more competitive in the market place.

    Going to college locally saves people time as well as saving money.

    It is important to remember that there is a direct relationship between having enough classrooms and labs and being able to offer key classes at times when students most need them. If Mt. Hood Community College lacks these resources, then there is a direct negative impact on the time it takes students to earn their degrees and certificates, their transfer credits, or their ability to move into the workforce as a productive member of the local workforce.

    Studies have repeatedly shown that community colleges are critical pipelines to continued higher education as well as a competent workforce in Oregon and around the nation.

    It is important to us as educators as well as concerned citizens to keep the doors open, to provide opportunity, and to do our best to meet the future needs of our community.

    What benefit will I personally derive from the bond?

    Everyone in Gresham, the East County and in the entire service area of the Mt. Hood Community College district, regardless of age, benefits from a healthy local community college. Students at the college range in ages from very young through their 80s. The college offers programs that are particularly of interest to seniors, such as noncredit classes in art, computer, exercise and film classes offered through the community education program; the programming in the Aquatics Center; Performing Arts Center events; and exhibits in the college’s art gallery.

    By supporting the community college, residents can be comfortable knowing their families and future generations will have access to high-quality, affordable higher education and training, because the rising cost of higher education in other institutions impacts everyone in a family. Most importantly, for all members of the community, the more residents who are educated and the more people who can enter the workforce and share the tax burden, the better off everyone is. A community with a well-educated population has a lower crime rate, has higher property values and has a better quality of life for everyone. And, if you are one of those grandparents who your children and grandchildren will look to for support of the costs of education, you will save money and help your family members acquire a great education locally.

    I’m already paying a community college bond. Why would I want to pay another?

    If you are receiving a ballot with the Mt. Hood Community College bond, it means that you reside within MHCC’s district, and you are currently not paying on a community college bond – and have not for decades.